It was an informative and eventful two days on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Both Oscar Lathlin Collegiate and Joe A. Ross School were wonderful co-hosts, and workshops were well attended and insightful.
Day One began with opening comments and keynote speeches, reminding everyone how vital gatherings such as these are. Elders Lillian Sinclair, Flora Young and Lydia Constant spoke on the importance of teaching our children where they come from, their culture and their language. Then, workshops covered everything from Cree Immersion Camps to Guided Reading. Teacher Myra Ducharme gave an excellent presentation on Teaching Treaty Relations in Grade 5&6 classrooms; while MFNERC Specialists Irene Huggins and Adeline Mercredi, among others, presented on Principles of Assessment and Co-Teaching Strategies.
Later in the afternoon, Margaret Hart, Math Specialist, gave a workshop on Math Olympics; while Wilfred Buck, Science Specialist, presented on Endangered Species and their importance within First Nations culture.
It wasn’t all work and no play. Oscar Lathlin Collegiate hosted an incredible Feast in the evening, featuring talented performances by local youth.
Day Two dawned bright and early with further networking, workshops, and an Elders gathering. “These conferences are important because they keep people connected and informed,” stated Joy Keeper, MFNERC Conference Coordinator. “They give educators ideas for their classrooms, but they also give people a chance to just get together and relax, learn new things, but have a good time too!” And a good time was definitely had by all, including Principal of Oscar Lathlin, Ron Constant, who on Feast Night was seen performing some good ole time country classics.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about the conference was the number of young people present; young teachers and educators, determined to give students a strong education. Elder Flora Young acknowledged this in her keynote address, and workshop attendees confirmed this with their insightful questions and discussion. If changing the world begins with educating our children, then the children of Opaskwayak Cree Nation and surrounding region are definitely going to be the ones to watch for.